Craig Terrill, defensive tackle with the Seattle Seahawks, continues his burgeoning rock-music career with a nightclub gig June 5, 2009, at the Triple Door.

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As a step in Craig Terrill’s evolving musical career, it is a small and subtle one; in the football world, you’d call it a step up on the depth chart.

Terrill, more widely known as a professional athlete than a musician, will play the Triple Door tonight, fronting his Craig Terrill Band and playing a brand of Americana rock many will probably associate with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger and John Mellencamp. The show will mark his second appearance in as many years at the club. But it’s his first on a weekend night — hence, the step up.

“We played there last May, but it was a Tuesday or Wednesday night,” said Terrill, who has started at defensive tackle for the Seattle Seahawks.

At 6-feet-2 and 295 pounds, his presence onstage is unmistakable. He is, by far, the biggest guy in the band, and he looks and sounds the part he is trying to convey with his music: a small-town boy from the heartland (he grew up in Lebanon, Ind., a town of 14,000 people near Indianapolis), who is serious but not too sensitive. He sings about land, hard work, unspoken love, family and growing up. He has a gravelly, storyteller’s voice that sounds unaffected and sincere.

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No doubt his notoriety as a football player has helped advance his career as a musician.

“If it brings people to the show, that’s great,” said singer and guitarist Terrill, “but I want them to keep coming back because of quality of music.”

At 28, he has had a successful and relatively long career in the NFL, playing five seasons after being drafted in the fifth round in 2004. He has been playing football longer than the guitar — he started organized football at age 8; he first picked up a guitar at the urging of his older brother at age 13 — but it is his musical career that has the potential to last.

“I’d like to play music for the rest of my life,” said Terrill, who took his most serious musical career step when he recorded a CD of original songs last year titled “CT.” (It can be ordered through his page on, or purchased at the Seahawks store at Qwest Field.)

Football has consumed most of his life since his college days at Purdue. But in the offseasons, he performed in local bars as a member of a classic-rock cover band called The Strangers. It was never more than a serious hobby until recently. Over the years, more opportunities to perform came up, many of them the result of being a football player.

He performed with team owner Paul Allen’s band, christening the WaMu Theater in 2006 as the opening act for Seal. He was invited onstage by Garth Brooks two summers ago to sing a duet at an NFL fundraiser in Las Vegas.

His friendship with guitarist Mike Mattingly, who produced “CT,” led to the formation of the Craig Terrill Band, the first of Terrill’s music ventures to result in paying gigs — one of the first was a concert at the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery last summer. The group has only one more gig scheduled after tonight’s Triple Door show, an outdoor concert June 13 at a resort in Lake Chelan. Then the music season is over; Terrill can play and perform only in the offseason, which in the NFL is January to July.

In April, Terrill played two shows at the Canoes Cabaret at the Tulalip Resort Casino to a standing-room-only crowd.

“There was a line out the door,” said Terrill. “Some of my friends didn’t even get in. It was like a packed house at a Seahawk game. There are a lot of similarities between the two. It’s a group of guys getting on the same beat, the same groove. And just like on the field, you can feel it when it’s happening, and you can feel it when it’s not.”

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